| Aug 03, 2006

Feature Article - August 3, 2006

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Feature Article - August 3, 2006

Dialling 10 digits

Editorial by JeffGreen

It is customary at this time of year for the media to comment about the weather. It has been very hot lately. People might wonder what the point is in talking about the heat, as if anything we say will make any difference. Of course, you might say that about all the editorials we run, but we keep running them anyway.

Instead, I will tackle a subject that is only related to the heat insofar as the hot weather makes little irritations more severe. And this is a little irritation.

Since mid-June (coincident with the onset of hot weather) 10-digit dialling came to the 613 area code. Now, whenever a phone call is made without the 613, a voice comes on the line and delivers the following message, “The local number you have dialled must be preceded by its area code. Your call will now proceed”. After October, those calls will not proceed and the correct number will have to be dialled.


We are all used to hearing recorded messages when we phone a number. Government offices, corporations, or most institutions of any kind have generic voices that come on to greet us. Not many of us like this, and the voices chosen to greet us are chosen to lessen that irritation. They are designed to be clear and pleasant, to soothe us as we are told that we are going to have to navigate through an irritating electronic phone system for several minutes just to get to the information or the individual we are really looking for.

In the case of the 10-digit dialling warning message, however, the intention is to make us change our behaviour, to encourage us to dial 613 the next time we phone.

So, a male voice comes on - a kind, zombie-like male voice. It is not exactly a rude voice; we are not quite being berated for the mistake of seven-digit dialling, but it has a hint of irritation. It is as if the man knows this is not the first time we have made this mistake. It is a subdued, almost depressed voice. It’s as if it is not a recorded message at all, but there is a man who is getting into a deeper and deeper funk as he has to repeat the same 20-word message over and over again, 24 hours a day.

After hearing the voice only once, no one wants to hear it again, and when it comes on, I now hang up immediately in order not to be subjected to it for another second.

I’m convinced that is precisely what the 10-digit dialling people want. After dialling phone numbers without the area code for 40 plus years, I now dread dialling seven digits. I’m afraid of the voice. I’m afraid that it will change, that it will say something like, “This is the 3rd time today you have made this mistake. Your phone will now be disconnected.”

So I am now indoctrinated into 10-digit dialling, a full two months before October. Mission accomplished, Bell Canada .

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